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tv   Voting Rights Act of 1965 Speech and Bill Signing  CSPAN  August 24, 2015 9:01pm-9:52pm EDT

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state and local level. >> gotcha. >> that rule changed america. sorry, kent. >> the voting rights act transforms the energy that exists in american politics. it's that transformation that pushes the energy forward and sustains the greater society. even though lyndon johnson dies in 1973, the things that are set in motion from '63 to '69 they are going to be sustained because there with people after him that are going to be voting to sustain what he put in place. the core of it is essentially still intact and impacts everybody today sfl you heard from two guests, kent germany, the editor of the lyndon b. johnson center at the university of virginia. also joining us is joe califano who worked with the president an
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also the author of the book "the triumph and tragedy of lyndon b. johnson." thank you very much. now a look back to august 6, 1965. we go to the u.s. capital to hear president johnson speak at the rotunda and then we'll see him sign the act. some live events to tell you about about the c-span networks. 8:00 a.m. eastern a discussion of the evolution of cloud, mobile and big data terminology and how it can be used by federal agencies to buy better service and increws productivity. that's being hosted by the online social network gov loop. later in the day, keith hall talks about the u.s. budget and economic outlook in an updated report from his agency. that's live at 11:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. saturday august 29th marks
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the 10th anniversary of hurricane katrina, one of the five deadliest storms in u.s. history. tuesday night at 8:00, x span's tour of hurricane katri tof new >> they told us that they would take us to shelters where we could get help and get the seniors to help. and they loaded us up on these military trucks and then they declared the city of new orleans and jefferson parish a war zone. and it still didn't sink in that we were the prisoners of war. >> on wednesday night at 8:00, c-span's 2006 tour of hurricane damage and recovery at st. bernard parish in louisiana. >> you can't describe it. that's your whole life gone completely. got nothing but cement and rubble left. not only your house, but your whole community. all of yourp friends, your family, everybody is gone.
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and now it's going to be a year later and still, your family and friends you don't see anymore that you used to see. hell of a feeling. you don't forget it. you'll never forget it the rest of your life. >> followed at 9:00 with a 2005 town hall meeting in new orleans. >> i'm relying on you. i know all this state level, federal level and all other levels. i don't have them. i voted for you to represent me on a local level. i don't know where else to go. i don't know what else to do. >> thursday night starting at 8:00, more from the atlantic conference in new orleans with fema's craig fugate and "the new york times" executive editor. at 9:00 we'll show you president obama's trip to the region as well as remarks on the recovery effort ten years after katrina.
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hurricane katrina anniversary coverage all this week on c-span. our look at the 1965 voting rights act continues now with president lyndon johnson signing the legislation into law on august 6th, during a ceremony at the u.s. capitol. then later a discussion on the history of voting rights from the reconstruction era to today.
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>> you ready? ready for me? turn it on, mac. run it easy. back to the first line. is that it? >> ladies and gentlemen, the members of the president's
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cabinet. [ applause ] [ applause ]
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[ applause ]
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my colleagues in the congress, ladies of the scene and unseen audience, vi the great privilege and high and personal honor of presenting to you the president of the united states. [ applause ]honor of presenting president of the united states. [ applause ]personal honor of p you the president of the united states. [ applause ]
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>> mr. vice president, mr. speaker, members of congress, members of the cabinet distinguished guests, my fellow americans. today is a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that's ever been won on any battlefield. yet to seize the meaning of this day, we must recall darker times. three and a half centuries ago the first negros arrived at jamestown. they did not arrive in brave ships in search of a home for
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freedom. they did not mingle fear and joy in expectation that in this new world anything would be possible to a man strong enough to reach for it. they came in darkness, and they came in chains. and today we strike away the last major shackle of those fierce and ancient bonds. [ applause ] today the negro story and the american story fuse and blend.
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and let us remember that it was not always so. the stories of our nation and of the american negro are like two great rivers, welling up from that tiny jamestown spring, they flow through the centuries along divided channels. when pioneers subdued a continent to the need of man, they did not tame it for the negro. when the liberty bell rang out in philadelphia, it did not toll for the negro. when andrew jackson threw open the doors of democracy, they did not open for the negro. it was only a septemberry ago that an american victory was
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also a any gro vinegro victory. and the two rivers, one shining with promise, the other dark stained with oppression, began to move toward one another. yet for almost a century the promise of that day was not fulfilled. today is a powering and certain mark that in this generation that promise will be kept. in your time the two currents will finally mingle and rush as one great stream across the uncertain and the marvelous years of the america that is yet to come. this act flows from a clear and
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simple wrong. its only purpose is to right that wrong. millions of americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. this law will ensure them the right to vote. the wrong is one which no american in his heart can justify. the right is one which no american true to our principles can deny. in 1957, as the leader of the majority in the united states senate, speaking and supporting
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legislation to guarantee to the right of all men a right to vote, i said, this right to vote is the basic right without which all others are meaningless. it gives people, people as individuals control over their own destinies. last year i said, until ever qualified person regardless of the color of his skin has the right unquestioned and unrestrained to go in and cast his ballot in every precinct in this great land of ours, i am not going to be satisfied. immediately after the election i
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directed the attorney general to explore, as rapidly as possible, the ways to ensure the right to vote. and then last march, with the outrage of selma still fresh, i came down to this capitol one evening and asked the congress and the people for swift and for sweeping action to guarantee to every man and woman the right to vote. in less than 48 hours, i sent the voting rights act of 1965 to the congress. in little more than four months the congress, with overwhelming majorities, enacted one of the
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most monumental laws in the entire history of american freedom. the members of the congress, the many private citizens who worked to shape and pass this bill will share a place of honor in our history for this one act alone. there were those who said this is an old injustice. and there is no need to hurry. but 95 years have passed since the 15th amendment gave all negros the right to vote. and the time for waiting is gone. there were those who said smaller and more gradual measures should be tried. but they had been tried. for years and years they had been tried and tried and tried and they had failed and failed and failed. and the time for failure is gone. there were those who said this
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is a many-sided and very complex problem. but however viewed, the denial of the right to vote is still a deadly wrong. and the time for injustice has gone. this law covers many pages. but the heart of the act is plain. wherever by clear and object ty standards states and counties are using regulations or laws or tests to deny the right to vote, then they will be struck down. if it is clear that state officials still intend to discriminate, then federal examiners will be sent in to register all eligible voters. when the prospect of discrimination is gone, the examiners will be immediately
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withdrawn. and under this act, if any county anywhere in this nation does not want federal intervention, it need only open its polling places to all of its people. [ applause ] this good congress, the 89th congress acted swiftly in passing this act. and i intend to act with equal dispatch in enforcing this act. [ applause ] and tomorrow, at 1:00 p.m., the
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attorney general has been directed to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the poll tax in the state of mississippi. [ applause ] and this will begin the legal process, which i confidently believe will very soon prohibit any state from requiring the payment of money in order to exercise the right to vote. and also by tomorrow, the justice department, through publication and the federal register, will have officially certified the states where discrimination exists. i have, in addition, requested the department of justice to work all through this weekend so
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that on monday morning next they can designate many counties where past experience clearly shows that federal action is necessary and required. and by tuesday morning trained federal examiners will be at work registering eligible men and women in ten to 15 counties. [ applause ] and on that same day next tuesday, additional poll tax suits will be filed in the states of texas, alabama, and virginia. [ applause ]
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and i pledge you that we will not delay or we will not hesitate or we will not turn aside until americans of every race and color and origin in this country have the same right as all others to share in the process of democracy. [ applause ] so through this act and its enforcement, an important instrument of freedom passes into the hands of millions of our citizens. but that instrument must be used. presidents and congresses, laws
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and lawsuits can open the doors to the polling places and open the doors to the wondrous rewards which await the wise use of the ballot. but only the individual negro and all others who have been denied the right to vote can really walk through those doors and can use that right and can transform the vote into an instrument of justice and fulfillment. so let nenow say to every negro in this country, you must register. you must vote. you must learn so your choices advance, your interests and the interests of our beloved nation.
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[ applause ] your future and your children's future depend upon it. and i don't believe that you are going to let them down. this act is not only a victory for negro leadership, this act is a great challenge to that leadership. it is a challenge which cannot be met simply by protests and demonstrations. it means that dedicated leaders must work around the clock to teach people their rights and their responsibilities and to
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lead them to exercise those rights and to fulfill those responsibilities and those duties to their country. and if you do this, then you will find, as others have found before you, that the vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they're different from other men. today what is perhaps the last of the legal barriers is tumbling. and there will be many actions and difficulties before the rights woven into law are also woven into the fabric of our nation. but the struggle for equality must now move to a different
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battlefield. it is nothing less than granting every american negro his freedom to enter the mainstream of american life. not the conformity that blurs enriching differences of culture and tradition. but rather the opportunity that gives each the chance to choose. for centuries of oppression and hatred have already taken their painful toll. it can be seen throughout our land and men without skills, in children without fathers, in families that are in prison, in slums and in poverty. it is not enough just to give men rights. they must be able to use those
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rights in their personal pursuit of happiness. the wounds and the weaknesses, the outward walls and the inward scars which diminish achievement are the work of american society. and we must all now help to end them. help to end them through expanding programs already devised and through new ones to search out and forever end the special handicap of those who are black in a nation that happens to be mostly white. so it is for this purpose to fulfill the rights that we now secure, that i have already called a white house conference to meet here in the nation's capitol this fall.
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and so we will move step by step, often painfully, but i think with clear vision, along the path toward american freedom. it is difficult to fight for freedom. but i think i also know how difficult it can be to bend long years of habit and custom. there is no room for injustice anywhere in the american mansion. [ applause ] but there is always room for understanding toward those who see the old ways crumbling. and to them today i say simply this. it must come.
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it is right that it should come. and when it has, you will find a burden that has been lifted from your shoulders, too. it is not just a question of guilt, although there is that. it is that man cannot live with a lie and not be stained by it. the central fact of american civilization, one so hard for others to understand, is that freedom and justice and the dignity of man are not just words to us. we believe in them. under all of the growth and the abundance, we believe. and so as long as some among us are oppressed and we are part of
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that oppression, it must blunt or faith and zap the strength of our high purpose. thus, this is a victory for the freedom of the american negro. but it is also a victory for the freedom of the american nation. and every family across this great entire searching land will live stronger in liberty, will live more splendid in expectation and will be prouder to be american because of the act that you have passed that i will sign today. [ applause ]
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>> all right, sir.
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